Richardville latest to take on Michigan grad student unionization

Feb 17, 2012

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

Earlier this month, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reported that the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) began a series of administrative hearings on the issue of  "whether U of M graduate student research assistants are considered students, or students and employees," which would give them the right to collectively bargain. Research assistants were pushing MERC to reconsider a 1981 decision classifying them as students only.

As the hearings were getting under way, Guerra reported, Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette stepped into the debate, filing a request with the Michigan Supreme Court to halt the proceedings, but it was ultimately rejected.

Now the Detroit Free Press reports that State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) is hoping to take a legislative route to stop research assistants from gaining public employee status, introducing a bill Wednesday that would explicitly forbid it.

From the Free Press:

The bill...would cancel the debate by amending the state public employee act.

The proposed bill says, “an individual serving as a graduate student research assistant or in an equivalent position and any individual whose position does not sufficient indicia of an employment relationship is not a public employee entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under this act.”

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom